Lee Hsien Loong: Might not right in handling sea disputes

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long has underlined the need to resolve territorial disputes in the East Sea in accordance with international law rather than the notion “might is right.”

"I think international law must have a big weight in how disputes are resolved," Lee told the Council on Foreign Relations during a visit to Washington on June 24.  

He said Singapore is not a claimant state in the East Sea, but it supports ASEAN’s ongoing effort to work on a more legally binding code of conduct (COC) with China, in order to manage and resolve the territorial disputes.

Lee noted that China says its claims have a historical basis that predates international law.

"I'm not a lawyer so I presume there's some plausibility in that argument, but from the point of view of a country which must survive in the international system where there are big countries and small, outcomes cannot be determined just by might is right.”

The US has also criticised China for its provocations in the East Sea after it positioned the giant floating drilling rig Haiyang Shiyou-981 deep inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in early May.

Lee Hsien Loong, East Sea